Heading into Week 17 of the regular season, the 2012 NFL playoff picture is almost complete.
Ten of the 12 postseason berths have been clinched, including all six in the AFC. Two division titles will be decided in the final week of the season.
Here are the current playoff standings, including seeds in each conference and potential first round matchups:
(1)Houston Texans 12-3 BYE
(2)Denver Broncos 12-3 BYE
(3) New England Patriots 11-4 vs. (6) Cincinnati Bengals 9-6
(4) Baltimore Ravens 10-5 vs. (5) Indianapolis Colts 10-5
(1) Atlanta Falcons 13-2 BYE
(2) Green Bay Packers 11-4 BYE
(3) San Francisco 49ers 10-4-1 vs. (6) Minnesota Vikings 9-6
(4) Washington Redskins 9-6 vs. (5) Seattle Seahawks 10-5
Even though most wild card spots and division titles have been settled, a lot can change on Sunday. Three of the four byes have yet to be decided, and all of the playoff matchups could be different in one week.
Several teams are looking to sneak their way into the playoffs in the NFC. The Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and New York Giants all have a chance to play beyond Week 17.
The Cowboys control their own destiny. They’ll visit the Redskins on Sunday Night Football in the final regular season game of the year. A victory for Dallas would give them the tiebreaker and the NFC East crown.
The Bears and Giants will both need some help to claim the last wild card spot. Chicago is in with a win a Minnesota loss. New York is a much longer shot to continue playing in 2013. They need to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, in addition to getting losses from the Bears, Vikings and Cowboys.
Minnesota just needs a win to guarantee their spot in the postseason, but they may not be the favorites to get the sixth seed. They’ll host the Packers in Week 17, and are three-point underdogs at home. Chicago has a much easier task, visiting the 4-11 Detroit Lions. The Bears are three-point favorites on the road.
Unlike the Vikings opponent, the Bears are playing a team that has nothing to play for. Detroit hasn’t won since Week 9, and won’t have much motivation in the closing game. The Packers, on the other hand, are still looking to secure a first-round bye.
If the Bears falter, that could open the door for the Giants. New York is set to host the struggling Eagles, who are also out of the playoff picture.
Every AFC playoff spot has been decided, but the seeding could easily change.
The Texans have held the best record in the conference for the entire season, but they might miss out on a first-round bye. The Broncos and Patriots should both win in Week 17, playing the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, respectively, in front of their home fans. Houston will visit Indianapolis, who’s won 10 games and lost just two at home.